RALEIGH — A local magistrate will soon be making his voice heard in Raleigh.
This week, Bladen County Magistrate Paul “Gib” Butler learned he has been appointed to the statewide Driving While Impaired Task Force.
“I was very excited and overwhelmed that I would be selected out of all the magistrates in the state,” said Butler.
Out of the almost 700 magistrates in North Carolina, only one is selected to serve on the voluntary task force. Appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory, Butler will spend the next four years attending meetings in Raleigh, where he and about 30 other task force members will review existing North Carolina data, laws, regulations, and programs to develop a statewide impaired driving plan for preventing and reducing impaired driving behavior.
The task force is comprised of individuals from a variety of transportation and law enforcement backgrounds and disciplines, as well as representatives from the General Assembly.
Butler has served as Bladen County magistrate since 2008, a position that has afforded him ample experience with drivers caught drinking and driving. He hopes to use his experience with the court system, his degree in criminal justice, and his knowledge of law enforcement to make some changes.
“There is more paperwork than you can imagine,” he said. “I hope, if anything, I can have an influence to cut down on that. There are a lot of other warrants you have to go through that don’t require as much paperwork as DWI.”
He added, “Whatever is in the best interest of society and will make the best laws and procedures for prosecuting DWIs, I’ll do.”
As a magistrate, Butler has seen impaired driving from a criminal perspective, and it has given him a different mindset.
“We get DWIs all the time for people who have only had two glasses of wine,” he said. “They’re not bad people. It can be a tough time in the magistrate’s office. You have to make really serious decisions at 2 in the morning, when there’s nobody else to get advice from, and those decisions impact society as a whole. I try to make the process as easy as possible, and I’ll bring that perspective to the task force.”
Butler’s service on the task force will begin Dec. 31. A swearing-in ceremony will be held Friday at 12:30 p.m. at the Bladen County Courthouse. Butler will be sworn in by soon-to-be Chief District Court Judge Scott Ussery.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.